From left to right: Noelle Koss (Renfield), Jonathan Barnard (Dracula)
"All men are mad in one way or another," and you'd have to be simply mad not to adore every detail of Lake Braddock Secondary School's recent production of "Dracula."

"Dracula" follows a small group of lovers and their associates in London, as strange occurrences lead to Jonathan Harker's disappearance during his business trip to Count Dracula's estate. Miraculously and upon Harker's vanishing, young Lucy Westenra falls ill. When her faithful suitor Dr. John Seward calls upon the help of mentor Professor Van Helsing to identify her ailment, it becomes clear that the strange and bloody happenings in London are not so coincidental. Van Helsing has one word for his "diagnosis": Vampires.

Premiered in 1995, the play adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula" was artfully crafted by American playwright Steven Dietz. The play maintains the extreme thrill depicted in the novel, as well as mirroring the gore of the 1992 horror film (by the same name) that popularized the plot in popular culture. To set such a story on a high school stage is a daunting task, to say the least; producing and performing such a show is not for the faint of heart, and neither is being an audience member.

Sitting in Lake Braddock's auditorium, audience members were thoroughly transported to the haunted halls of Dracula's influence. Auditorium doors slammed shut and lights flickered, while the aisles were filled with the cast's ghostly ensemble; sitting in an aisle seat meant hair-raising interaction with asylum-bound characters and a vampirical ensemble alike. 

To have an ensemble of vampires with such individual talent and cohesion alike is very rare, and Lake Braddock's chorus of Transylvanian vampires found exactly that. Flawlessly maintaining identical dead stares and synchronous dance-like movement, the ensemble of Dracula was the very key to immersing the audience in the horror genre of the play.
In the midst of the show's eerie ensemble troupe stood the leading man, Jonathan Harker, traipsing through the seas of the audience with a lit candelabra (props by Kat Brill). Alex Perry as Harker flawlessly portrayed human fear, as well as courage. His indubitable portrayal of Count Dracula's first survivor, in short, was nothing but show-stopping.

To mention only one lead actor is impossible, as every named character brought a professional gusto to their role, identifying actors like Amelia Campbell-Reidhead, Ben Mills, and Lake Rusch, to be of the utmost commitment to their craft. Mills' portrayal of unrequited love was highly successful, and his ability to bring a sense of humanity to a tale of the supernatural was both remarkable and refreshing. Campbell-Reidhead's portrayal of Lucy's descent into madness, and eventual exorcism, was simply bone-chilling, while Lake Rusch as Mina portrayed the true 19th-century heroine.

Complete with flashing lightning (Katie Brusseau, Sungah Kong) and flawless balance of sound (Leah Dutcher), even when characters spoke-- or screamed, rather-- over each other in rounds, made the show even more memorable. Seemingly with ease, Lake Braddock pulled off Bram Stoker's "Dracula" just how he intended it: Drop-dead spooky!


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